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Bose Smart Soundbar 700 Review

This is high-end bar with high-end sound and features, making it an ideal choice for a home theater system and doubling as a smart speaker
Bose Smart Soundbar 700
Credit: Bose
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $799 List | $799.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Great sound quality, crystal clear dialogue, useful sound customization features
Cons:  Glass top shows a lot of smudges and dust, expensive, doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual X codecs
Manufacturer:   Bose
By Michelle Powell and Matt Bento  ⋅  Nov 11, 2021
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Sound Quality - 45% 8.5
  • Ease of Use - 35% 7.5
  • Volume - 15% 8
  • Style/Design - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The Bose Smart Soundbar is our favorite soundbar, as it creates an immersive and exciting home theater experience reminiscent of multi-speaker systems while offering a multitude of media playback options and effective Alexa and Google support. After loads of hair-splitting, head-scratching, listening, and watching, we deem it very worthy of our praise as the best overall soundbar. This model's ADAPTIQ technology tunes the soundbar to the unique acoustic properties of your living room, allowing it to bounce sound off your walls for a wide and immersive soundstage, exceeding our expectations of what can come out of one centrally located set of speakers.

The Smart Soundbar is expensive, especially considering that it doesn't support the Dolby Atmos or Virtual DTS:X formats. While this is a major oversight, we find the ADAPTIQ as effective at giving the soundbar a big theater feel as many of the Atmos-enabled competitors.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $799 List
$799.00 at Amazon
$800 List$280 List
$278.00 at Amazon
$399 List$190 List
$129.99 at Amazon
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Pros Great sound quality, crystal clear dialogue, useful sound customization featuresPhenomenal music playback, seamless integration with Sonos ecosystemGreat sound for the price, bluetooth, external subwooferCompact design great for smaller rooms, seamlessly integrates with other Sonos products, excellent musical sound qualityEasy setup, great price tag, subwoofer included
Cons Glass top shows a lot of smudges and dust, expensive, doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual X codecsHuge, expensive, no BluetoothNo wifi connection, no EQ controlsNot the loudest, Sonos app required for set up, no plug and playNot the best overall sound quality
Bottom Line This is high-end bar with high-end sound and features, making it an ideal choice for a home theater system and doubling as a smart speakerThis model sounds incredible while listening to music and provides a pretty immersive home theater experienceThis is the best sounding entry-level soundbar, and the loudest model we testedThis a great sounding little bar that excels with musical content, and packs plenty of punch as part of a home theater systemThis soundbar is loaded with great features and has an enormous sound, making it an exceptionally good value
Rating Categories Bose Smart Soundbar... Sonos Arc Sony HT-S350 Sonos Beam Vizio V-Series 2.1...
Sound Quality (45%)
8.5
7.4
7.1
7.0
5.6
Ease Of Use (35%)
7.5
6.5
5.8
6.5
6.9
Volume (15%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
Style Design (5%)
7.0
6.0
6.8
6.9
5.4
Specs Bose Smart Soundbar... Sonos Arc Sony HT-S350 Sonos Beam Vizio V-Series 2.1...
Dimensions 2.25" x 38.5" x 4.25" 3.4" x 45" x 4.5" Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13"
2.72" x 25.625" x 3.94" Bar: 2.28" x 36.00" x 3.20"
Sub: 9.9" x 8.25" x 8.25"
External Subwoofer No (optional) No (optional) Yes No (optional) Yes
Inputs (wired) Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), Ethernet, 3.5mm AUX IR, 3.5mm AUX Data, 3.5mm AUX Bass, 3.5mm AUX ADAPTIQ tuning Digital audio in (optical), Ethernet, HDMI (ARC) Digitcal audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC) Digital audio in (optical), Ethernet, HDMI (ARC) Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX VA, 3.5mm AUX, USB
Supported Audio File Formats Dolby Digital, DTS Dolmy Atmos Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch Stereo PCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos (Dolby Digital Plus), Dolby Atmos*, Dolby TrueHD*, Dolby Atmos (True HD)*, Multichannel PCM*, Dolby Multichannel PCM* DTS
WiFi-enabled Yes Yes No Yes No
Bluetooth Yes No Yes No Yes
Voice Assistants Alexa, Google Assistant Alexa, Google Assistant n/a Alexa, Google Assistant None, but has a dedicated 3.5mm AUX port to connect a VA device
App Bose Music Sonos n/a Sonos n/a
Remote control? Yes No Yes No Yes
Max Volume 97dB 87dB 102dB 85dB 95dB
Syncs with: Bose Simplesync enabled speakers Sonos None Sonos None

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Bose Smart Soundbar 700 is a best-in-class soundbar that very effectively doubles as a smart speaker with built-in support for both Alexa and Google Assistant. It easily connects to WiFi, allowing you to access a host of streaming services, use Apple Airplay, or keep it simple by just playing music off your device using the Bluetooth connection. This model doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual:X, and while some folks may see this as a dealbreaker, the Bose Smart Sound Bar has a few tricks up its sleeve to produce a wide and immersive sound stage. Even with a multitude of customizable parameters and a process called ADAPTIQ that analyzes the acoustics of your living room, setup is still an easy, frustration-free process, and it arrives with a universal remote that's quickly become our preferred way to control our home theater system.

Performance Comparison


The Bose Smart Soundbar 700 has a wide soundstage that's a perfect...
The Bose Smart Soundbar 700 has a wide soundstage that's a perfect pairing with a large flatscreen for an excellent home theater setup.
Credit: Laura Casner

Sound Quality


Quality audio is why you've committed to spending the big bucks on a soundbar, and the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 delivers a top-notch performance as a home theater system and for playing music. Unique to this soundbar is a pair of sideways firing drivers and a tweeter placed in the center of the soundbar, creating a true center channel that helps with dialogue enhancement and an exceptionally wide soundstage.


Cinematic Experience


This soundbar creates an immersive (and fun) home theater experience thanks to its ADAPTIQ technology that tunes the soundbar to the acoustics of your living room, enabling it to bounce sounds off the walls, effectively "faking" surround sound. The effect is very convincing, even eerie at times, and had our testers checking over their shoulders to make sure no one was approaching from their periphery. This is one of the most immersive soundbars we've used, despite its lack of support for the Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual:X codecs, though we can't help but wonder what the results would be if the Sound Bar 700 would be if it could decode these immersive formats and play them through its wide soundstage.

The Smart Soundbar 700 has an exceptional dialogue enhancement...
The Smart Soundbar 700 has an exceptional dialogue enhancement setting that makes dialogue easier to hear through a busy and chaotic mix or when you need to watch at lower volumes.
Credit: Laura Casner

Like many of Bose's compact stand-alone speakers, the Soundbar 700 is exceptionally well balanced. What it lacks in size and power, it mostly makes up for in definition and clarity. While the bass isn't earth rumbling, it sounds pleasantly punchy, while the mids and highs have the signature Bose crispness. When the dialogue mode is engaged, the accentuated dialogue is louder, clearer, and effectively isolated from the rest of the mix while still sounding buttery smooth and natural. The effect isn't at all subtle, and folks who often find themselves missing important plot points in dialogue due to roaring kaijus and exploding helicopters will appreciate it.

Music


This soundbar has some impressive music chops, and if you're looking for a speaker to pair with your flatscreen and be your main speaker for music playback, the Smart Soundbar 700 is a great option that's relatively free of compromises. It has plenty of power to fill your living room and then some with its well-balanced mix, though it's somewhat weak on the low-end. You can purchase and connect Bose's bass module, but be warned that it costs nearly as much as the soundbar.


Ease of Use


The Smart Soundbar 700 is by no means a plug-in-play device, but despite a few mandatory procedures, Bose manages to make the setup process and user interface fairly hassle-free, and there are plenty of options that make playing media easy, regardless of your chosen source. The soundbar connects to your tv via an HDMI eARC connection or an optical connection. Using the optical connection will free up your TV's HDMI port, but the optical connection can't take full advantage of the included (and very useful) universal remote.

There are plenty of ports in the back of this soundbar, including a...
There are plenty of ports in the back of this soundbar, including a 3.5mm aux input. Folks who are looking for simplicity can still find it here, as you only need an ARC or optical cable to connect with your tv.
Credit: Laura Casner

Setup


Getting this soundbar up and running requires a few steps, but the well-designed app easily walked us through the process. After connecting to WiFi and sitting around waiting for a brief software update, the app took us through the process of calibrating the ADAPTIQ. A strange headset is included, and the headset has several microphones that send information to the soundbar, allowing it to attenuate itself to the living room based on where you'll be sitting. Sonos uses the mic on your smartphone for a similar purpose, though Bose's method orients the entire setup using the precise height and location of your ears.

Connectivity


With WiFi, Bluetooth, Apple Airplay, and native support for both Google Assistant and Alexa, you'll likely be able to play your media however you prefer. Bose's app allows you to browse your favorite streaming services, while Bluetooth gives you the option to keep things simple and stream directly from your phone or tablet. The Bluetooth is also fast enough that we can connect this soundbar to a projector without experiencing any lag.

This soundbar comes with a large, rubbery universal remote. When the soundbar is paired with a TV with an HDMI connection, the remote has full control of the TV and soundbar functions, and the backlit buttons light up accordingly when you pick it up, omitting or including buttons based on what you're controlling. It works well, though we wished the LEDs stayed on a little longer while we searched for the correct button.

Sound Customization


Some soundbars keep things too simple, making them easy to set up and control while omitting deeper customization options in favor of a few presets. The Bose Smart SoundBar 700 deftly takes the middle path, offering a dialogue enhancement setting that dramatically improves our ability to hear spoken word regardless of what else is happening on stream, plus a few EQ settings that can be controlled via the Bose app, including bass and treble adjustments, plus the ability to boost the center channel.

We love Bose's simple and effective app that will allow you to make...
We love Bose's simple and effective app that will allow you to make adjustments from any room in the house.
Credit: Laura Casner

Volume


This Soundbar gets loud enough to fill even the most cavernous of suburban living rooms. We measured a maximum volume of 97 dBa. For reference, that's about as loud as a motorcycle engine or a train. You don't need to experience this level of volume very often, and neither do your neighbors.


Design/Style


Bose goes all out with the design here, combining a glass top with a metal grill. The result is pretty striking and conveys the fact that the Smart Soundbar 700 is a high-quality piece of equipment, though the glass top is very reflective, and a magnet for smudges. At 38.5" long, it takes up less space than its main competitor (the Sonos ARC at 45" in length), while sounding much bigger than similarly-sized models.


The bar itself is devoid of buttons save a touch-sensitive "action" button whose functions change based on your voice assistant, and another touch-sensitive button that turns off the microphone. You'll need the included remote or the Bose app to access all the other parameters and settings.

The slick metal and glass housing looks awesome, but the glass top...
The slick metal and glass housing looks awesome, but the glass top tends to attract smudges.
Credit: Laura Casner

Value


This well-designed, feature-laden model is anything but cheap, and its price tag is close to what you might pay for a multi-speaker surround system, though for a single unit, it sounds amazingly immersive and brings all the advantages of a soundbar- easy setup, no wires to run, and multiple means of connectivity, plus this one is "smart," so you can control all the tasks and functions of Alexa and Google Assistant.

Conclusion


The competition is stiff among the soundbars at all price points, despite the omission of Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual:X support, the Bose Smart Soundbar takes the top spot with its superior home theater sound quality, huge soundstage, and its excellent balance of simplicity and customization. If your budget allows, we feel this is the best soundbar you can buy.

Michelle Powell and Matt Bento

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